Aztec boxer pumped up to fight after hiatus

Joe Martinez steps into ring this weekend for first time in 22 months

Matt Hollinshead,
  • Joe Martinez last fought in May 2016 against Denver's Terry Buterbaugh.
  • Martinez trains at a makeshift gym in his garage.
  • Martinez turned pro in 2004 and has a 20-7-1 record.

AZTEC — Adrenaline flows through Joe Martinez whenever he steps into the ring.

The Aztec boxer, who weighs 154 pounds and fights in the super welterweight class, constantly trains for that very moment when he touches gloves with his opponent, making his nearly 22-month hiatus from the sport a tough thing to endure.

"It's difficult when I'm watching fights on HBO," Martinez said. "You miss the competition."

But that time away from live action is finally over.

Martinez will face Denver’s Corey Alarcon on Saturday night at the Sky Ute Casino Resort Events Center in Ignacio, Colorado, his first professional bout since May 2016.

Hardship strikes

Since earning a unanimous decision over Denver’s Terry Buterbaugh in Ingancio in a May 2016 fight, Martinez, now 33, has had to overcome two hurdles.

He had another fight scheduled in Ignacio for October 2016, but his infant son, Elijah, was hospitalized in Albuquerque with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a birth complication in which the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen levels.

Martinez had to pull out of that fight to be with his son, but soon found time to train again.

"Maybe two months after I got back from the hospital in Albuquerque, we were back in the gym. It's part of my life. It's hard to stay out of it," Martinez said. "I'm always a pretty self-motivated guy. But with Elijah in the picture, it's even more motivating."

However, promoters weren't offering Martinez quality fights during that time period. And he didn’t want to settle for any short-notice fights because he trains for quality foes. He didn't want to fight someone with a poor record in order to make quick cash.

But he kept training rigorously and raised his family while waiting for his name to be called again for another quality fight.

The luxuries of home

Martinez, who turned pro in 2004, uses his garage at his Aztec home as his makeshift boxing gym.

With a matted training circle, multiple punching bags, a large stop clock and other boxing equipment, along with trainers Larry Whitey and Lorenzo Whitey working with him, Martinez has what he needs at home.

Martinez also takes part in events like marathon running to help maintain his conditioning.

Martinez has been able to balance training with fatherhood.

Joe Martinez applies a quick left hook while working with trainer Lorenzo Whitey during Wednesday's training session in Martinez's garage at his home in Aztec. Martinez will step into the ring on Saturday in Ignacio, Colo., his first professional fight since May 2016.

Kicking things into high gear

Martinez has been pushing himself even harder over the past seven weeks to prepare for Saturday's fight.

He said he's fine-tuning various parts of his skills set, from having smoother footwork to quick close-range jabs. He also said he's stressing endurance even more today so he can outlast his foes.

"He's perfected everything already. What we do is, we make sure he's still sharp. Because if you don't use a knife after a while, it gets dull," Lorenzo Whitey said. "Joe's very experienced in his technique."

Confidence is sky high

Martinez's career professional boxing record is 20-7-1.

"He's got a really tall frame. And he's got a good reach, so that's kind of an advantage," Larry Whitey said. "He can set everything off the jab. Keeps the guy at bay, keeps the guy guessing."

Whether the fight goes down to the last second or if Alarcon, who has won three of his last five fights, comes out swinging right away, the 6-foot-1 Martinez said he will be prepared because he trains for different situations.

"At the end of the day, I'm going to have my hand raised," Martinez said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.